❝“Are you a Vessel?” I ask, weak and wary, but starving.
He gives me an evil grin.
“Why don’t you find out?”❞
This mortal means to cause me trouble, I can tell. He thinks he can handle me, thinks he can bind me and bend me to his will. He’s not the first to think so, and he won't be the last. And weak as I am right now, he may be right. But as I grow in strength, so will I grow in power. He will subjugate me—but only for a short time.
I study him, trying to gauge how much harm he’ll cause before I’ll be able to wrest control back from him. He’s not my preferred choice of Vessel—I don’t tend to go for murderers; they garner too much attention, and I prefer to remain unnoticed. But then again, I don’t have much choice.
My current Vessel is dying, trapped as she’s been in this pit by the very people this mortal killed. I suppose I can be grateful for that at least, even if he only killed them for the joy of killing, rather than because they deserved death.
“Well?” he asks, flipping his bloody knife from hilt to tip and back again.
I sigh—and shakily commandeer my Vessel’s arms to reach for him. He goes willingly, and I draw him to my mouth as a lover, pouring myself into him and out of her as a spill of white smoke, ephemeral as evaporating morning frost, but potent enough to fill the empty space all Vessels have within, to hold me and my kind.
When I—when he—opens his eyes, it is to the sight of my former Vessel staring up at me, something mournful and betrayed in her gaunt expression. I am not sorry to be leaving her, though I liked her well enough. My first concern is always my own survival. That is my nature.
And I seem to have shifted none too soon—moments later, her eyes are empty and stare at nothing.
My new Vessel straightens up, allows my old host to fall gracelessly to the ground, and flexes his—our—hands.
“They never said it would feel like this,” he says.
Oh? I ask. Most Vessels find hosting me discomforting in the extreme—to bear the weight of me alongside the weight of one’s own soul is a burden, and creatures such as I burn. It is why we never stay with any one Vessel indefinitely; we eat them up until there is nothing by ash left, as fire eats wood.
But my Vessel doesn’t seem to be pained. No, instead he seems…joyous? Unease pricks at me.
“I feel marvellous,” he breathes. “Powerful.”
And so saying, he reaches for me from within—and his grasp is all-consuming, all-encompassing, and I feel true fear for the first time in a long, long age.
No mortal has ever had the strength to corral me in any permanent way. But I suddenly feel that even at my full strength, this one…this one might.
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This year's prompts are from Deep Water Prompts on tumblr.
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